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you first see the small size of these models, you might think “How in
the world am I going to paint *these* and make them look good? Well, fear
not -- it’s really not too difficult at all to turn them into miniatures
you’ll be proud to display on the gaming table!
tools and supplies are very basic -- some fine needle files (mainly one
with a flat surface, others might come in handy), a hobby knife with a
fine-pointed blade, glue (such as Elmer’s white glue), craft sticks, a
“large” paint brush (such as a #1 or a #2) and some smaller ones (in
the “10-ought” or even “20-ought” range), paint (blue, a light
gray and maybe two or three darker shades of gray, tan, black, white - and
maybe a few colors, which I’ll touch on in Step 10), and Future floor
polish or your clear overcoat of preference.
lighting is important -- especially with the small size of the models!
When I started working on these ships, I purchased a “magnifying lens headset”. It took a little getting used to, but I’ve found it to be a very sound investment. Also, it gave me a better look at the incredible amount of detail on these fine models! I use them at many of the steps in this process.
an overall note -- take your time! I’ve
found that when I get in a hurry is when I tend to make more mistakes --
which ends up costing me more time than I would have spent originally if
I’d just taken my time and “done it right” the first time!
Remove the ships from the packaging -- but keep each ship with its
packaging, to help you identify which ship is which!
While I do a wee bit of “mass production”, I try to do only one
or two packs of a particular type at a time -- after a while, all those
1:6000 scale destroyers start to resemble each other, and you don’t want
to get any of them mixed up!
Clean the flash, if any, off the model, using a fine file. This is a good time to clean up the edges of the bases, too.
If you wish to remove the “tab” at the end of the bases, now is
the time to do it. I leave
mine on, and use that area to add identifiers to each ship (see Steps 10
and 13, near the end of the process).
Wash the ships and the bases in a solution of warm, soapy water,
using dish detergent and an old toothbrush.
Before you rinse them, make sure the strainer is in the sink first
-- guess how I came to this step? Fortunately,
the SEYDLITZ was retrieved from the garbage disposal... but it’s a
process that is just as well not undertaken!
Under running water, rinse well, and let dry on a paper towel.
Using a small dab of white glue (such as Elmer’s), glue the model
to a wooden “craft stick”. (My
wife got these at a craft store; they’re also called popsicle sticks.
She and the kids use them for craft projects -- I often take the
“unusable ones” and use them for my modeling purposes...)
This serves not only as a handle to hold the ship, but you can also
write what ship it is you’re working on the underside of the stick.
I usually glue two ships to each stick -- one on each end --
leaving the middle of the stick available as a place to hold it.
Let the glue dry.
Using either an airbrush or a large brush, paint the models a gray
color. If you’re using a
brush, be sure that you’re not trapping air bubbles “in the corners”
on the ships. Let dry
While the ships are drying, paint the bases an appropriate blue
color. If you’re painting
destroyers or other smaller ships, I recommend painting the gray first,
then “edging in” with the blue. Again,
let dry thoroughly.
Make a wash of very thin black paint and your choice of thinner. I use acrylics, so my thinner is water, with just a dab of
liquid dish washing detergent -- this breaks down the surface tension and allows
the wash to flow more smoothly. Paint
the ships and the bases with this wash.
Go lightly -- this will darken all of the colors, but will really
“pop out” the details! Let
Now it’s time for “detail painting”.
There is a saying that if you can see it, you can paint it. This is often easier said than done, but I generally have
found it to be true. As with
many other “areas” of modeling, it is easier to paint “from the
inside out” and to paint darker colors over lighter ones.
(This step is where the good lighting and the magnifying lenses
*really* come into play!
highly recommend painting the very tops of the funnels black.
In my opinion, this does more to improve their looks than any other
step I’ve done. If desired,
paint the decks an appropriate tan or gray color.
My general “rule of thumb” is WW I ships get tan decks, WW II
get darker gray decks, and only on ships of cruiser and larger sizes.
You can go as you please here...
If you have access to information on what decks should be what
color during which time period, then feel free to use them.
yet to try any camouflage schemes -- I would suppose only the “most
basic” schemes would be viable -- but then again...
I guess it’s up to the skill level (and patience!) of the
painter. This is also where
you would paint carrier flight decks -- and if REALLY ambitious, apply
striping. I’ve seen
pictures -- done well, they’re awesome!
But I’ve yet to tackle that one... up to now, I’ve mainly done
WW I ships and a few WW II ones.
Using white paint, drybrush the bow waves and the wakes on the
bases. This is much easier to
do on the ships with the bases cast separately!
Go easy here -- it’s much easier to go back and add more
“whitecaps” later than it is to remove them if you got them too
If you’ve left the tabs on the bases, now is the time to paint
them. I color-code my ships
by nation -- red for British, black for German, blue for American, orange
for Japanese, etc. This makes
it easier to identify the models “in the heat of battle”...
When your satisfied with Steps 8 through 10, it’s time to
“assemble” the models. Using
a thin, sharp knife (like an X-acto with a #11 blade), “pop” the model
off of its craft stick. Lightly
sand the base of the ship to remove any glue residue.
Then glue the ship to the base.
Some recommend using a “super glue”, but once again, I prefer
Elmer’s white glue. It dries clear, so if you “smudge” any onto the base, it
“disappears” as it dries. And
-- if you make a mistake and glue the ship onto it’s base backwards,
it’s much easier to remove it and glue it facing the proper direction. (Guess how I found THIS one out?
It was actually kind of funny, you know -- seeing the CANOPUS
sailing backwards at flank speed!) And
I’ve yet to have a ship become accidentally separated from its base --
so I guess that Elmer’s works well enough for me!
After the glue dries, place the completed model on a paper towel.
Then, give them a coat of Future floor polish.
This is a acrylic floor finish, which has proven to be very durable
under normal handling. It
dries to a glossy sheen, which looks fine to me.
If you don’t want a glossy finish, I suggest an airbrushing with
a matte-finish overcoat, such as Testor’s Dullcote.
Make sure your overcoat is compatible with the paints you’ve used
up to now -- I would be very hesitant to apply Dullcote (a lacquer) over
my Polly S and Model Masters (acrylics).
It CAN be done, if you use very light coats and let each coat dry
thoroughly before applying the next coat -- but I don’t like to do it.
Again, to each his own...
I now apply the names to each ship, on the tab at the end of the
ship, using decals. I’ve
had sets of white lettering, in four-point size, made.
This takes a lot of patience, placing one letter at a time -- I
never do it after a hard day at work!
But I think the results are worth it.
I can usually get five letters on the larger ships, four on the
mid-size (cruiser), three on the smaller ships.
Use a little “common sense” here -- obviously, PRINZREGENT
LUITPOLD will not fit, but P LUIT will.
Some are obvious, such as KG V or KONIG; others may take a little
more effort. Destroyers are another matter... use whatever system works
for you. When done, each ship
has its name, in white, over the “appropriate color” background, at
the end of the ship. Makes
identification on the gaming table much easier!
(You don’t have to pick up the ship to see which one it is --
then put it back *exactly* where it was when you picked it up!)
suppose this step could also be done with labels you could make on your
computer, cut out, and glue on. I may try this at some point -- after all, decaling each name
in 4-point type does take quite a bit of time!
But I haven’t tried it yet...
After the decaling, apply a final coat of Future.
You now have two clear coats over the model, which will also help
to affix the ship to the base if you used Elmer’s glue back in Step 11.
I also apply the ship names to the underside of each base. I use a label maker to make them; you could also print them
up on your computer and glue them to the bottom, etc.
Now, step back -- not too far, though! -- and admire your work!